When a band tries to stay on the thin line between pop and underground, it is a delicate situation: it means acquiring a popular attitude in sound while maintaining the holy fire of experimentation. This line is so thin that it is difficult to stay on it with two feet and it is easy to fall down in irrelevance.
Rock music shows positive examples: New Order, a band risen up from the from the ashes of the most underground band ever, became the symbol of a brilliant ability to mix pop electronic sounds with a dark attitude, always in search of the perfect pop song while remaining icons of post punk.
One of the last attempts is the new album from Warpaint, out for Rough Trade. Emily Kokal (vocals, guitar), Theresa Wayman (vocals, guitar), Jenny Lee Lindberg (bass, vocals) and Stella Mozgawa (drums, vocals), formed the band in 2004 in LA and created a particular mix of dub, dream pop and indie rock which gave them excellent feedbacks. Their first album (The Fool) was dark enough to be considered an interesting version of english dream pop. The second album, Warpaint, produced by Flood, explored deeper sounds and textures, with bass lines in evidence.
A cult band in the indie panorama, it seemed. But not in the mind of Warpaint. They consider themselves a pop band and Heads Up has the ambition to build their bridge between underground and pop. With alternate results, to be honest.
The first episode is really cool: “Whiteout” is like a psychedelic trip hop, with the chorus always in evidence. Dreamy, slow, excellent. The good impression is confirmed by “By Your side”, alcoholic enough to be appreciated, with its deep bass lines and the voices surrounding the listener as sirens. But the third song, “New Song”, is only a light dancy song with a banal refrain. “The Stall” is a dark slow whisper, nothing special as the next song, “Don’t Wanna”. The folk attitude of “Don’t Let Go” has no beginning or end, only an interesting bass line. The alternative hip hop in “Dre” doesn’t add anything. A likable attempt, with too many ingredients and a few good songs. The road to pop history is already long.